Saturday, July 13, 2013

Grammarly Review

Grammarly offers a 7-day free trial of their premium service, so I tried it earlier this month. As a professional editor, I know the value of human judgment when it comes to editing and proofreading. I was wary about an online, impersonal editing service but wanted to actually use it before making a judgment. As is often the case, there are some parts I really like, and some I don't.

  • It is thorough and finds several different types of errors, including commonly misused words (to, too, two).
  • There is a plagiarism check option. This helps not only to be certain your writing is your own (if you wrote it, it is), but also to be sure your phrasing is unique and you are avoiding cliches.
  • Every error found includes an explanation about why it's wrong. Grammarly doesn't change the document but gives suggestions for improvement.
  • You can download a PDF of the corrections to save for later.

  • You can only review small sections of text at a time (so, novels are out unless you're willing to take the time to separate them).
  • Naturally, each section takes several minutes to review. (Still much faster than the turnaround time of an editor but feels long when you're sitting and waiting.)
  • The plagiarism check doesn't help when you use the same terms in blog posts. For example, a section of my Grammar Day post was marked as "plagiarism," since I always start and end with certain phrases.
  • The misused words are often incorrectly labeled. ("I had to go to the store" might be marked wrong, and "too" given as a replacement - even though in that context the original was correct.)
  • The above can also be said about any errors it catches...which reaffirms the need for human judgment.

Conclusion: Grammarly is a good proofreading tool. It shouldn't replace an editor, and in fact could become the cause of grammatical errors. If I didn't know grammar rules already, I might have taken all the suggestions Grammarly gave, believing they were correct in the context of my post. Some weren't.

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